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Ohio State drops Big Ten lacrosse opener to Penn State, 9-4

The Buckeyes fall once again in their second-straight top-five matchup.

NCAA Lacrosse: Quarterfinals - Denver University Pioneers vs. Ohio State Buckeyes Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

In a matchup of top-five teams, the No. 5 Ohio State Buckeyes men’s lacrosse team opened up conference play with a 9-4 loss to second-ranked Penn State in Happy Valley. The loss was the team’s second straight, after opening the season 9-0. The Nittany Lions, meanwhile, remain undefeated on the season with a 10-0 record.

This year marks the third season of Big Ten lacrosse, and all six teams in the conference are currently ranked in Inside Lacrosse rankings. Ohio State’s matchup against Penn State was the first of a tough, five-game conference schedule.

The Buckeyes kept things close throughout the first half. Penn State opened up scoring with 13:19 remaining in the first quarter, but Ohio State answered on the next possession with a goal by sophomore midfielder Logan Maccani — his first goal of the season — assisted by senior midfielder Jake Withers. Penn State added a second goal midway through the quarter. Then, in the final seconds of the first quarter, freshman midfielder Tre Leclaire, the Buckeyes’ leading scorer on the season, scored his first goal of the game to tie things up heading into the second.

Ohio State took the lead just 10 seconds into the second quarter on a goal by freshman midfielder Ryan Terefenko. Penn State, however, tied things back up on a goal by Mac O’Keefe, the nation’s second-leading scorer. The Nittany Lions added another goal with 4:32 remaining in the quarter to take a one-point lead into the half.

Penn State took control in earnest in the third quarter, holding the Buckeyes scoreless as the Nittany Lions extended their lead to 7-3.

The Buckeyes were unable to create any momentum in the final quarter, though Leclaire added his second goal of the game to give Ohio State the team’s final goal, avoiding a second-half shutout.

Leclaire led the Buckeyes in scoring, finding the back of the net twice on three total shots on goal.

Shots were 39-35 in favor of Penn State. Senior goalie Tom Carey saved 12 shots on 21 shots on goal, while Penn State saved 13 of 17 attempts.

Withers, who is one of the top specialists in the nation, had another strong day on faceoffs, winning 13-of-17 attempts. Senior attackman Eric Fannell and senior midfielder Johnny Pearson each had four groundballs for the Buckeyes, though Penn State picked up 30 attempts to Ohio State’s 22.

Next up, Penn State faces ninth-ranked Maryland in College Park, while the Buckeyes return home to face No. 13 Johns Hopkins in Columbus.